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Labor calls for increased pressure on China on alleged mass detention of Uyghur Muslims


September 13, 2018 13:53:32

The Labor party has called on the government of Morrison to increase the pressure on China on the reported mass detention of Uyghur Muslims.

Most important points:

  • It is claimed that the Chinese government is trying to "cleanse" the Uyghur people and let them swear the loyalty of China to the president.
  • Penny Wong from Labor said the government should use its position from the UN Human Rights Council to exert pressure
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade indicates that it is concerned about Beijing

The remarks came when the US Republicans called on the Trump government to extend the sanctions against China with entities involved in the situation in the autonomous region of Xinjiang Uighur.

The global human rights community has expressed its serious concern about the existence of "re-education camps" in the west-western province of Xinjiang in China.

In her first comments to the media on the issue earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Marise Payne said the government had expressed concern with China about the situation in Xinjiang.

The statement reiterated previous remarks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under the former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

But shadow minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong said that while Labor welcomed the government's decision to raise concerns with Beijing, more could be done.

"Labor is deeply concerned about the continuing reports of the mass detention of the Chinese minority, the Uighur population and other human rights violations," Senator Wong said in a statement.

"Labor is calling on the government to use Australia's membership in the UN Human Rights Council, in coordination with other members, to continue this problem with the Chinese government."

It is claimed that the Chinese government is trying to clean up the Uyghur people – the Turkish-speaking ethnic minority of the region – and swear to swear by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

In a recent report, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination cited estimates that up to 1 million Uyghurs could be held in custody.

As part of their detention, it is assumed that Uyghur Muslims have been banned from using their own language in schools, forced to learn Chinese instead.

All religious practices such as praying, attending mosques, fasting during Ramadan, wearing Islamic clothing and growing beards are also forbidden.

Beijing has rejected all accusations and said that Xinjiang is facing a serious terrorist threat from Muslim militants and separatists who carry out attacks to increase the tensions between the Uighur people and the ethnic majority, the Han Chinese.

Senator Wong said it is "important that the Uighur community in Australia does not feel pressured or intimidated by events in China".

Australia is home to a close-knit Uighur community of an estimated 600 families, with a combined population of an estimated more than 4,000 people, most of whom live in Adelaide.

Many have relatives and friends who are currently trapped in China and have protested against the way the Chinese government treats their people.

The Australian Association of Eastern Turkistan has submitted a petition to the parliament with 10,000 signatures, calling on the government to increase the pressure on China to put an end to the arrests.

The Australian National Council of Imams also condemned the treatment of Uighurs and issued a statement this week calling for action by the Australian government.

"Xinjiang can not be regarded as anything other than a totalitarian police state … and someone who has found something related to Islam is arrested and sentenced to many years in prison," the council said in a statement.

"This treatment can only be regarded as inhumane and intolerable."

American republicans urge Trump to defeat China

In a letter from Wednesday, the US Congress Executive Commission on China, led by Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, asked the Minister of Commerce Wilbur Ross to extend the list of Chinese entities excluded from the purchase of surveillance equipment.

"Given the national integration of the state security system in China, we believe that there should be … a presumption of denial for the sale of technology or equipment that would make a direct and important contribution to the police surveillance and detection system. [in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region]"Said Senator Rubio and Mr. Smith in the letter.

The US State Department expressed concern about the "deterioration of the crackdown" in China in the Xinjiang region on Tuesday.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that "China is firmly opposed to the US using Xinjiang related issues to interfere in China's domestic affairs."

"The Chinese government protects the freedom of religion and belief of Chinese citizens in accordance with the law," Geng said on a daily briefing to reporters.

Mr Geng also referred back to calls from the new High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for China to allow UN observers to Xinjiang after a series of "deeply troubling" reports of human rights violations in the region.

"China urges the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to rigorously respect the mission and principles of the UN Charter, to respect China's sovereignty, to carry out its duties fairly and objectively and not to listen to unilateral information ", Mr Geng said.

The remarks echoed earlier statements from Beijing that "anti-China" forces are behind criticism of Xinjiang.



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